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Monday, June 05, 2006

Plays I wonder if anyone's read

While we've done a pretty good job, if we do say so ourselves, with the EEBOnics part of Simplicius and Truewit's Holzknecht Redivivus project (see sidebar, and viz. Truewit's last post), so far we've done absolutely nothing with the Plays part of it. No doubt this is because the four of us are lazy, bad, and morally reprehensible people who can't find time to actually read the literature we claim to love reading. (Sorry, my superego temporarily gained control of the keyboard.) Since I don't have an actual post about a little-read play yet, I thought I'd do the next best thing: list some plays that fascinate me by their mere titles and authors, plays that I wonder if anyone out there has ever read. How embarrassing, I know, not to have read these plays; it's like admitting to not having read Hamlet.
  • See Me and See Me Not, by one "Hans Beer-Pot" (1618)
  • Wine, Beer, Ale, and Tobacco, written in Dutch by "Gallobelgicus" but for which we can be eternally grateful to "Mercurius Britannicus" for translating into English (1629)
  • Crafty Cromwell, Parts 1 and 2, the first written by "Mercurius Melancholicus" and the second by ... wait for it ... "Mercurius Pragmaticus" (both 1648)
  • the anonymous Charles the First (1649)
  • Anything by the wonderfully named Cosmo Manuche (The Loyal Lovers and The Just General, both 1652)
Anyone read any of these? Bueller? Bueller?
I really should read one and post about it. Maybe if I didn't have so much else to do. Then again, maybe that's precisely why I will read one and post about it.

  • At 6/05/2006 08:13:00 AM, Blogger Simplicius wrote…

    I've read Wine, Beer, Ale, and Tobacco (1630), as well as the earlier version of the play, Wine, Beer, and Ale (1629). Not surprisingly, the play's an allegory, with the three beverages representing the court, the city, and the country. In the 1629 version, the three characters fight and quarrel, as do their servants, Sugar, something, and Toast, until they are all reconciled by the priest Water. When the play was republished one year later, a new character was added, Tobacco, who starts the fighting all over again. Tobacco convinces the three alcohols to relinquish the peace established by Water and go off and battle for the Low Countries (of ladies' laps).

    It's been a while, but that's how I remember the play.

     

  • At 6/05/2006 09:06:00 AM, Anonymous Crispinella wrote…

    As far as I remember, Wine, Beer, Ale, and Tobacco gives some good examples of pro and anti-Tobacco rhetoric (the reason I read it in the first place - I haven't read the earlier version sans Tobacco).

    I like this bit, from Ale:

    "I remember I haue heard him reported a solidier, and once being in company with a knap-Iack man a companion of his, I obtained a coppy of his military postures, which put downe the pike and pot-gun cleane, pray obserue 'em.

    1 Take your seale.
    2 Draw your box.
    3 Vncase your pipe.
    4 Produce your rammer.
    5 Blow you pipe.
    6 Open your box.
    7. Fill your pipe.
    8. Ramme your pipe.
    9. Withdraw your Rammer.
    10. Returne your rammer.
    11. Make ready.
    12. Present.
    13. Elbow your pipe.
    14. Mouth your pipe.
    15. Giue fire.
    16. Nose your Tobacco.
    17. Puffe vp your smoake,
    18. Spit on your right hand.
    19. Throw off your loose ashes.
    20. Present to your friend.
    21. As you were.
    22. Cleanse your pipe.
    23. Blow your pipe.
    24. Supply your pipe.

    Exercise this discipline till you stinke, defile the roome, offend your friends, destroy your liuer and lungs, and bid adiew to the world with a scowring fluxe." (Now there's a clause of death.)

    Like some other plays, it has dashes in the text to indicate that Tobacco is puffing on his pipe as he speaks, which is always a good thing ("Now, doe you not know mee---what do yee stand at gaze---Tobacco is a drinke too").

    And any play that includes the stage direction "Enter Tost drunke"...

     

  • At 6/05/2006 02:21:00 PM, Blogger Hieronimo wrote…

    Wow, two readers for WBA(T)--who knew? The play sounds great, maybe that will be the one I read, if I can get over what seems to be a brief bout (like a 720-hour virus) with illiteracy.

    That quotation is great, Crispinella. This is how the world ends, not with a bang but with a scowring fluxe.

    Both your comments show why the Plays part of Holzknecht Redivivus project would actually be quite useful, I think, if we could ever get it going. People searching for particular topics (tobacco, e.g.) or for the title of a play could get a quick sense of what it was about.

     

  • At 6/11/2006 03:07:00 AM, Blogger muse wrote…

    Well, there goes my theory that one of you (S, maybe) is a friend of mine who specializes in Caroline drama . . .

    Charles the First (1649) is deliciously terrible. It's like Jacobean tragedy, but with even more stops pulled out. The character of Cardinal Mazzaro is more lubricious, more cupiditous, more ravenously greedy, than any seventeenth century Catholic cleric ever to appear previously on the stage. I can't remember the plot points, because it's been a long time since I read it, but it's a hilariously good read, and (I think), a wonderfully bad play.

     


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